One of my favorite things about using a GPS for directions is observing how it behaves when I, either accidentally or purposely, make a turn that is different than the directions it has laid out for me. I like that my present device is kinder than my previous one, quietly plotting a new route without telling me I was wrong. It always makes me smile when it tells me to go to the next intersection and make a U-turn. But, no matter whether I follow that direction or not, it will keep recalculating, producing multiple ways for me to get to my intended destination.
Some of those "incorrect" turns are intentional, not ultimately incorrect at all - I needed to circle by the post office or stop off at the office. I knew when I punched in my destination that I was going to do this, but I also knew that the device would self-correct and map out the rest of the journey, the part beyond places I already knew how to get to.
My internal physical and spiritual GPS has had to do lots of recalibrating this past month. I've taken some twists and turns and made some on-the-fly direction changes. Some of them were purposeful; some were caused by roadblocks that I hadn't counted on encountering.
Physically, there was this set of symptoms which, when looked at as a group, set the course for a trip to the cardiologist and my first experience with a chemical stress test, a very weird physical sensation in itself. The doctor confidently ruled out heart issues as the cause for my symptoms, which was good, but also frustrating. Good that my heart seems healthy; frustrating that I still had all the symptoms and no answers. Back to my family doc for medication for a stomach ulcer. Of course, that diagnosis would have been easier if the pain had been in my stomach rather than under my left shoulder blade! I knew from past experience that it would take several weeks for the ulcer to heal and for me to experience relief. And it did. In the meantime, the pain I was experiencing in my chest abated, making itself felt only occasionally.
But by far the most frustrating aspect has been bouts of overwhelming exhaustion (yes, I have had extensive blood tests). I will be going along feeling pretty good, then suddenly I am overtaken by a physical sense of absolute exhaustion. It would be easy to keep going back to the doctor, persisting in trying to diagnose something, but it occurred to me that perhaps all my body was telling me was that I needed to stop and rest. As my wise daughter pointed out, it might just be the past 40 years of manic activity catching up with me. I resisted that idea for awhile, preferring something that a 10-day prescription would fix, but finally had to agree that it made sense to simply listen to my body.
So, I have been resting. Sleeping more than usual. Moving slowly. Missing usually scheduled activities (gasp). Not spending much time at the computer. And, I am starting to feel better; not great, but definitely better.
During this time I have been reading books that challenge some things about my previously held belief system. I am exploring, stretching, clarifying, and growing in my faith. Everything I have read and thought about this past month has re-affirmed something I had written about earlier - my theology from this point forward will be simple one: love God, love people, and follow Jesus. Anything beyond that just gets in the way.
One of my primary conclusions is that there are many ways to be right and still be a follower of Christ. It is not my calling, nor that of the organized church, to condemn or to decide which sins are acceptable and which are not. I would even go so far as to say it is not our job to convict people of their sins; I will leave that to the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my job to love God so well that I cannot help showing His love to people. It is my job not to see "people" as a mass, but as individuals, each of whom was created in the image of God, and to respond to God's direction in my interactions with the individual people He puts in my path each day. When I drive by the elderly widow's house, I will say a prayer for her, but then I will listen, truly wanting to discern whether I am to do something beyond praying.
So, I will continue this journey, sometimes missing the GPS directions. I'm driving through some really amazing countryside, content in the fact that I am not lost, because a God who sees the whole map is continuously recalibrating my path.